Meet the MBA class of 2023: Luca Marini, HEC Paris

“Passionate, multi-faceted character who doesn’t yet know what to do when I grow up.”

Hometown: Salerno, Italy

Fun fact about yourself: When I started my career abroad, my level of English was so bad that people couldn’t understand me well. Among other stories, I remember confusing the verb “print” with the Italian “false friend” and “dab” (“print” in Italian translates to “dab”). Nobody in the office could understand why this intern always wanted to stamp all the documents, even the less significant ones!

Ironically, I now stamp and sign some of my company’s most important documents.

Undergraduate School and Major: I graduated from high school with a grade of 100/100 cum laude focusing on humanistic studies at Liceo Ginnasio Torquato Tasso, Salerno, Italy.

I completed both my Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering with a mark of 110/110 and my Master of Science in Structural and Geotechnical Engineering with a mark of 110/110 cum laude at the University of Naples Federico II, Italy.

Most recent employer and job title:

Applied Technology and Management – Dubai Branch

Project manager | Head of Marine Structures and Geotechnics Department

Apart from your classmates, what was the key element of the HEC Paris MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? HEC Paris has caught my attention and fueled my dreams since I started thinking about an MBA. The prestige of the school and the reputation of its MBA program were certainly key factors that led to my decision. It also appealed to me the idea of ​​being exposed to a wide variety of opportunities ranging from the different courses included in the program to all electives and the option of an international exchange. The idea of ​​having the possibility to customize half of the program according to your own interests and ambitions is a plus.

What course, club or activity are you most passionate about at HEC Paris? It’s hard to pinpoint a specific course or activity I’m passionate about, with such a wide range of topics. I would say I’m excited about the program as a whole, with all the different courses on offer, including Strategic Business and Finance and Marketing. For someone like me who has a pure technical background, these are all very interesting topics and I can’t wait to see what will be most appealing. The ability to choose from seven different specializations is excellent, allowing you to customize the preparation to suit your tastes and interests.

HEC Paris is only 17 kilometers from Paris. In your opinion, what do you like the most about getting your MBA so close to Paris? Paris is at the heart of Europe and has always played an important strategic role in the history of the continent and the world. France and Paris play a major role in the economy and politics of the European Union and, as such, for a European citizen, it is a great chance to strengthen ties with a neighboring country and culture; it is a step towards creating a stronger European feeling and sense of belonging.

Describe your biggest achievement in your career so far: My goal has always been to get the best results and preparation in the most constrained time frame. I was the first student in my class to graduate with full marks. In the space of 3 years, I obtained my Master’s degree cum laude and three years ahead of the average Italian age of students who obtain a Master’s degree in engineering.

I decided to start working abroad. It was not easy to cope with the stress of moving abroad and having a first professional experience at the same time, two challenges that I was not afraid to take on and which I took on successfully. Constantly trying to prove myself, I decided to leave my first job, a safe and comfortable position, and accepted the role and responsibility of leading a department and becoming a project manager despite my young age. This role requires me to be able to effectively organize the work of other people and ultimately be accountable for their deliverables to the Client and the Authorities.

Recently during the confinement linked to COVID-19, I managed the project of a 300m bridge. Despite the difficult pandemic situation, thanks to the continuous hard work of the design and coordination of the office team and the site team, the bridge was successfully built in just 30 days!

I’ve always been very curious to explore other fields and that’s why, during my last year of Master, I wanted to try to develop my own business idea. This project required enormous efforts to develop new skills from both a commercial and technical point of view. This challenge was quite successful considering the awards received and made me realize that passion and creativity can bring out innovative ideas and solutions off the beaten track.

How has COVID-19 changed your outlook on your career and life in general? The main lesson I learned was that once again the world is extremely interconnected and unpredictable things can happen and propagate while you are working on your own plans. This is a lesson we had already learned on a different occasion, but with similar results during the global financial crisis; globalization and the high level of interconnection between countries is the tool that has allowed the global economy to grow, but it has also exposed its weakness to fall like a house of cards. What happens in one country — what is done by a small group of people — can have global consequences. This means that now more than ever, we need to develop skills to navigate through uncertain times and be ready to react and adapt to every opportunity. People’s lives can change from day to day, but skills will always be needed.

Thus, times of crisis can always be an opportunity to reconsider the world, to develop, to create new solutions and to adapt. Also, based on this consideration, I think it might be a great time to take a break to study and develop new skills.

From a personal perspective, having lived abroad for over five years now, I have come to realize what it really means to be away from home. Before COVID, physical distancing had lost its meaning as anyone could reach every corner of the globe in less than a day. These days that perspective has completely changed and I think people will start to appreciate and value more what it means to work and live abroad. I haven’t met my family for a year and a half. I spent my last Christmas without them for the first time in my life…it’s something I never thought possible before. What I learned is that in addition to focusing on work and career, we should not deprive ourselves of the good times of break and rest to spend with our loved ones.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I believe that I have reached a point in my career and my life where I want to set goals for myself at a higher level, based on the experiences acquired so far and the ambition that I have. I am sure that this program will definitely open my mind and provide me with all the necessary tools to achieve my personal and professional goals. Professionally, I grew up with a technical background, but I quickly understood that my vocation was more oriented towards interpersonal relations and managerial tasks (which I now exercise). Unfortunately, university engineering courses often fail to provide students with adequate preparation for management; it is the lack that I feel the need to compensate for at this point.

I want to further develop managerial skills and business-oriented capabilities. As a short term goal, I would like to move into a senior management position and eventually lay the groundwork to start my own business.

I would like to devote my time and efforts to achieve something meaningful and useful for the community, or more specifically for my country. I am considering different ways to achieve this, which could come from the private sector or be involved in the public sector. Starting a business focused on products and services useful to the community and creating job opportunities for people would be a great way to do this. On the other hand, public involvement or work supporting public planning and action would be an alternative way to achieve such a goal.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? SDA Bocconi and ESADE

What advice would you give to help potential candidates enter the HEC Paris MBA program? Present your story at its best! Each person who has their own passions, ambitions and experiences is unique and interesting. Brands and titles cannot capture the full picture of a person. It’s your ability to get out of this pattern!

About Mark A. Tomlin

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